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Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Salted Caramel Bars

Salted Caramel Bars

DAY 10: Salted Caramel Bars

A tender bar cookie with a sweet layer of salted caramel. You can use caramel sauce from a jar, or try the homemade recipe below. You will never go back after trying it! The salted caramel recipe below makes more than you will need for the bar cookies, but I’m sure you can find other uses for the leftovers (apples, ice cream, pies, your finger).

RECIPE:

Salted Caramel Bars

Salted Caramel Bars
(adapted from Brown Eyed Baker)

1 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 ½ cups brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ cup  Salted Caramel Sauce (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9” square baking pan with parchment paper or nonstick foil; set aside.

Place the melted butter in a large bowl and whisk in the brown sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla and whisk to combine.

Mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Fold into wet ingredients with a rubber spatula until well mixed.

Press half of the dough into the prepared pan. Pour the salted caramel sauce onto the center of the dough and spread into an even layer, leaving about a ½-inch of space around the edges. Drop the remaining cookie dough in spoonfuls over the caramel and gently spread  until the caramel is covered.

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a thin coating of caramel.

Cool the bars on a wire rack to room temperature, then refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow the caramel layer to set. Cut into squares and serve.

Makes 16 bars.

Salted Caramel Sauce

1 cup sugar
6 Tbs butter, softened and cut into tablespoon-sized chunks
½ cup heavy cream
1 – 1 ½ tsp flaky or coarse sea salt
1 tsp vanilla (and/or seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean)

Place sugar in a medium to large saucepan (mixture will bubble up and expand as cool ingredients are added to the hot pan). Cook over medium heat until sugar just begins to melt. Stir gently, trying to keep sugar crystals off of the sides of the pan. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar melts completely and is a medium amber color (about 350°F if you use an instant-read thermometer). Reduce heat to low and quickly whisk in butter chunks, stirring constantly.

Stir in cream, stirring constantly until smooth. Stir in salt and vanilla. Pour caramel immediately into a glass jar or heat-safe bowl to cool. Do NOT scrape sides or bottom of the pan with a spatula. If you do, you are likely to get sugar crystals into your nice smooth caramel. If the caramel has formed crystals while cooking, you can pour it from the pan through a fine sieve into the jar to remove any crystals before cooling.

Caramel can be kept in a covered jar at room temperature for several weeks.

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Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Cinnamon Brown Sugar Blondies

Brown Sugar Cinnamon Squares 1

DAY 3: Cinnamon Brown Sugar Blondies

These bar cookies are as simple as they come: One Bowl, No Mixer Needed, No Waiting for Butter to Soften, No Last Minute Trip to the Store for Ingredients, No Scooping Multiple Batches of Cookie Dough, No Waiting by the Oven to Switch Baking Sheets

And they are super good: like snickerdoodles, but without all of the work.

Some days it is just all about simple.

Brown Sugar Cinnamon Squares 2

RECIPE:

Brown Sugar Cinnamon Squares 1

Cinnamon Brown Sugar Blondies

1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
½ cups sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 ½ cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ tsp cinnamon
Cinnamon Sugar: 1 Tbs sugar + 2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease two 8” square baking pans (or spray with Baking Pam).

Melt butter in a large bowl in the microwave. Use a wooden spoon or curved spatula to stir sugars into melted butter until incorporated. Mix in the eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.

Spread the batter into the prepared baking pans. Sprinkle with Cinnamon Sugar. Let sit for 5 minutes before baking.

Bake at 350°F for 26-28 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely and then cut into squares.

Makes 32 squares

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Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Butterscotch Marshmallow Blondies

Marshmallow Blondies

DAY 10 : Butterscotch Marshmallow Blondies

Blondies are a fast way to make a week’s worth of lunchbox treats for the kids. These have mini marshmallows that melt down and help keep the bars soft and gooey. You could also add some chocolate chips for a Smores-like flavor.

RECIPE:

Marshmallow Blondies

Butterscotch Marshmallow Blondies

¼ cup butter, softened
½ cup white chocolate chips
2/3 cup flour
1 small package butterscotch pudding mix
½ cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup mini marshmallows
½ cup white or regular chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a square baking dish (8×8”) with nonstick foil.

In a small microwave safe bowl, combine butter and 1/2 cup white chocolate chips. Cook on high for 30 seconds. Stir. Cook for another 30 seconds if not completely melted.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, pudding mix, brown sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir in melted butter mixture. Mix in egg and vanilla until smooth. Stir in marshmallows and ½ cup white or regular chocolate chips (if using).

Press batter into prepared pan and bake for 20 minutes, or until center is barely set. Cool completely. Cut into squares to serve.

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